Since I quit my job to become a poor student again, I’ve been busy getting reacquainted with the Reykjavík Bus system. It’s cheaper and more convenient for me to use the buses since the bus connections where I live are pretty good and the distances that I have to travel are short. Plus I don’t have to start the day with doing something I hate with a passion: finding a parking space. Parking in general is a headache but parking at the University of Iceland is like an incurable and very painful cancer in the head.
I’m very curious and an explorer at heart so I tend to make everything a mission and an opportunity to learn something new. So naturally, now that I’m on a bus everyday I’m constantly thinking about ways to make bus rides more enjoyable, the system more efficient and the whole experience more appealing to a greater number of people. Because let’s face it, this earth needs more people to use public transportation. One of my favorite discoveries so far this fall is a little website called gulur.is – a helpful tool for anyone with a smartphone using the Reykjavík bus system.
Gulur is the Icelandic word for yellow and refers to the color of the buses in Reykjavík. It’s the brainchild of Guðmundur Bjarni, a software engineer and new father here in Reykjavík who describes himself as a choir-singing coffee, beer and tea nerd. His words, not mine. Basically gulur.is is a website intended to be used on smart phones but it takes advantage of the location feature of the phone to give you information about the closest bus stops and at what time the bus is expected to be there.
I had a little chat with Guðmundur Bjarni who told me he got the idea when he moved back to Reykjavík from Copenhagen where he was accustomed to using public transportation and having helpful tools on his iPhone to do so. He felt that was missing for the Reykjavík bus system and decided to do something about it. He used the information on straeto.is and did some investigation of his own to accurately calculate at what time each bus was expected at every stop. When I asked him about new features he told me that in future he hopes that gulur.is will be able to answer questions about which bus to take to get to different destinations which should make gulur.is even more useful.
I am not lying when I say that I use gulur.is every day and I love it. Especially because it’s not an app (I prefer good mobile sites over apps most of the time) and it’s user friendly without any unnecessary bells and whistles. There are no images that make it load slower or eat up your data allowence, no Google ads that you accidentally click trying to navigate the site and it answers the question I have every day: when is the next bus from here. It’s a shortcut on my Galaxy Sii home screen and I’m very thankful that Guðmundur Bjarni took the time to make my life easier. Every little thing counts.
Gulur.is is also on Facebook and Twitter and I suggest you like and follow for updates about new features and developments. You can actually use gulur.is on your desktop computer or laptop too but I’m not tech-savvy enough to tell you on what it bases it’s results if you do (although I’d guess it has something to do with your internet connection)